Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Children are Waiting

            Numbers can be hard to wrap your head around; statistics aren’t warm and fuzzy and who can relate to them? 147,000,000. 147 million. Can you picture 147 million of anything? I can't. How about more than 147 million orphans worldwide, right now – can you even begin to conceive of it?

Here is a thought: start here, with me, with these three children who are orphans no more, and imagine something different. Imagining this hurts like a sucker punch, but try with me for a minute, please.

Start with this boy - the one who is tall and strong, an amazing guitarist with a tender heart, a kind big brother and son -  and imagine that he is instead still in his country of birth. In this future, he lives in an orphanage, and his terror at the many changes of caregivers he experienced his first years has hardened into attachment disorder; he is angry, he is lonely, and inside his tender heart, he is afraid. His teeth haven’t received the extensive work they needed, to make up for poor prenatal nutrition, and his mouth hurts always; even his adult teeth have been destroyed by the constant infections of his baby teeth. In this reality, this child not placed initially because of a frightening diagnosis now suffers an unrelated hearing loss, and without hearing aids, he misses much of his world, including conversation and schoolwork. He does not have a guitar, pets, siblings, parents. He is alone, and at 18, the world will not receive him kindly.

            Imagine this child next: the child who rides a hand-cycle, keeps most of his family organized, is wildly intelligent and runs with his siblings on his prosthetic legs. Imagine that he was not adopted, but instead, sent to another orphanage – his third – where children are often sent when they haven’t found a family. His grief over losing the foster mother he loved so dearly, and the rejection he felt at their parting, have taken over his once joyful spirit. At two and a half, upon his arrival at the orphanage, his paperwork said he shrank into himself, had “slightly below normal intelligence” and that he could not play with the other children because of his limb differences. Imagine that now, at 11, he feels his differences deeply, stays apart from the other children, and has stopped trying to prove that he is smart. He needs vision therapy to help his eyes focus, but no-one has ever noticed this. Despite the work of dedicated people trying to change perceptions of those with disabilities in his birth country, in this reality, he will not have many chances as an adult.

            Last, imagine the youngest – eight now, full of words and imaginations and hugs. Imagine that at two and a half, when his lack of speech prompted a diagnosis of developmental delays, he was not adopted. Imagine that instead, he stays in an orphanage – his fifth placement. Perhaps he is moved again, at five, to a more permanent orphanage, where his rehabilitation therapy and hope of a family end. With each placement he shuts down further, though no-one knows that his blank stare, slack face and even drooling are part of him disassociating – a PTSD sort of reaction that has also stunted his physical growth. It is hard for him to pay attention, with his heart always racing so, and after a while, it becomes easier to give in fully to his habit of lying on the ground and pushing a toy in front of his face – that is soothing and always predictable. He stops asking for hugs, and people stop trying to teach him, because, after all, what could he learn? He is tiny and stunted, and his hope is gone.

These are not statistics – these are real children; my children, as “real” as the children physically born to me, and this is what they might have faced had they not been adopted. Imagining their options without a family is heart-wrenching, and imagining our family without them is equally so. It has been the greatest privilege of our lives to welcome our children home and provide them with what they need to thrive, and we have been outrageously blessed as we’ve watched them blossom.

But now we know – the more than 147,000,000 children waiting – they are not statistics. They are real children, in orphanages, foster homes and worse situations, around the world. They are children with names and personalities and feelings, waiting to become the people God made them to be, waiting for families who will love and nurture them and show them the way. They are, each one of them, bigger than a statistic, bigger than a diagnosis. Each one is a child of God, perhaps your child, waiting.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

Now you know: 147 million. Please, consider. Adoption and orphan care is not only for the childless or infertile – not just for those who hear an audible voice from God telling them to get busy and care for the orphans – he has told us: it’s in His book. We have been adopted and redeemed by a gracious God and how can we not want to respond in turn?

    God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.   Ephesians 1:5 NLT

     We are not left with a hopeless future; we belong, our future is certain, and we know we are loved. What about the more than 147,000,000 children? They are waiting.

Some resources to consider: Waiting child photolisting and advocacy, adoption e-zine. Our three youngest were Rainbow Kids.
Children's Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS was the placing agency for our boys)
Love without Boundaries -  worldwide group of volunteers dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and impoverished children in China

I know there are many more - for this National Adoption Month, I'd be glad to share other resources brought to my attention.

Thankful to be part of this journey, and
Trusting in Him,


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! So well stated, and very heartbreaking to imagine what the lonely future might have been for our children. You are right ~ it is our privilege and blessing to parent them and love them always. And so many more wait...